BRATTLEBORO—The “Met: Live in HD” series continues at the Latchis Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m., with the North American premiere of Marnie by Vermont-born composer Nico Muhly and librettist Nicholas Wright.
Based on Winston Graham’s haunting novel, which inspired the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Marnie is the tale of a beautiful woman in late-1950s England running from a mysterious past, who assumes a series of new names, identities, and physical appearances.
Marnie is caught in her deceit by businessman Mark Rutland, who blackmails her into marrying him. Stripped of her life of lies, Marnie is forced to face the truth and her future, without the deceptions on which she has relied for so long.
Moving quickly through cinematically structured scenes, Muhly and Wright illuminate Marnie’s inner life using a variety of musical textures and literary techniques. One innovation of Muhly’s score is its use of a madrigal-like chorus of four women — Marnie’s Shadows — who follow Marnie throughout the opera, giving voice to her turbulent and confused inner thoughts.
Born in Randolph, Muhly has risen to become a wunderkind of the contemporary musical scene, crossing genres to collaborate with a variety of other artists. He studied composition with John Corigliano and was a protégé of Philip Glass.
Muhly is the youngest composer ever to be commissioned by The Met, for Two Boys, which was staged at The Met in 2013.
He also has ties to the Brattleboro area. In 2009, the Brattleboro Concert Choir commissioned a piece from him and performed Jubilate as part of its celebration on Blanche Moyse’s centennial. Muhly has also collaborated with area native sons Thomas Bartlett and Sam Amidon on musical projects.
The cast is led by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Marnie. Baritone Christopher Maltman plays her husband and rival, Mark Rutland, and countertenor Iestyn Davies is Mark’s brother. Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves is Marnie’s mother, and soprano Janis Kelly is her mother-in-law.